The co-owner of a distillery in the Crossroads Arts District said he came up short of the necessary votes to obtain a liquor license that would allow him to sell more drinks and stay open longer.
Tom’s Town, a 1-year-old distillery at 1701 Main St., did not gather enough consent votes from nearby property owners on Thursday.
Tom’s Town will remain in business and can sell drinks, but it can’t extend its hours past midnight on Friday and Saturday, play live music or provide a wider selection of drinks than what the current liquor license allows.
“We are not going to get the consents, and that’s just exceedingly disappointing,” David Epstein said.
Under Kansas City ordinances, liquor license applicants must acquire signed permission from the majority of parcel owners within 250 feet of the proposed establishment.
Epstein said he received seven consents, five short of the 12 he needed to reach a majority on the 23 surrounding property owners.
Epstein and his business partner, Steven Revare, bought the three-story brick building that houses Tom’s Town in 2015 from Brad Nicholson, a real estate owner and developer with extensive property holdings in the Crossroads and elsewhere.
Epstein had said Nicholson, who owned the majority of property parcels near Tom’s Town, used the leverage he held on the fate of the distillery’s liquor license to set conditions on the business. Those included, Epstein said, hours of operation, the types and amounts of beer and wine they could sell and other restrictions.
Nicholson had countered that Epstein had told him at the time the building went under contract that they were running merely a distillery and a small tasting room. Over time, according to Nicholson’s account in previous reports, the Tom’s Town partners asked to be able to sell food, wine, beer and offer entertainment that transformed the business into something other than what they first proposed.
The rift divided Crossroads residents, property owners and business people. On one side, concerns emerged about a property owner having too much influence over the operations of another private business. Others worried about the proliferation of bars in places like the Crossroads and whether the arts-themed district would become a party zone.
The Kansas City Council sought a compromise this year with an ordinance that limited the consent votes of extensive property owners in the Crossroads and the West Bottoms to no more than 35 percent of the overall total. That meant Nicholson no longer holds control with his votes over the outcome of the Tom’s Town liquor license.